Nintendo’s Mario Kart franchise continues to impress gamers around the world. Getting its start on the Super Nintendo and flourishing from there with a number of sequels, we’ve seen it evolve, particularly with online multiplayer and more elaborate course designs. The forthcoming sequel, Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U, continues this trend with anti-gravity vehicles and all-new modes. 

Despite these changes, power-ups have always been a constant. Whether you get a speed boost with a mushroom or become impervious to attacks with an invincibility star, these items add plenty of strategy – and make all the difference between first and last place. 

Granted, not all power-ups were created equal, so here are the 10 best items in Mario Kart games. 

10.) Raccoon tail 

This item temporarily grants players extra reach with their vehicles to perform both defensive and offensive maneuvers. Using the tail, they can whack incoming projectiles and also swat rivals close by. There's no limit to its use, so go ahead and swing like crazy. 

9.) Bob-omb 

The Bob-omb is another recent power-up introduced to the Mario Kart universe, and while its reach isn't the greatest, the item’s overall effect cannot be ignored. Lob one of these in front of you and it'll create a thunderous explosion that will knock drivers out for a few seconds. This is good if you have a few racers ahead of you, or rivals hogging the lane. 

8.) Red Koopa Shell

If you have someone ahead of you that you can't get past, the Red Koopa Shell is a cool weapon to have. After launching it, the shell targets the closest adversary and knocks them for a loop, allowing you to take the lead. Try and save these for the final lap in a race, because they can make all the difference.

7.) Bullet Bill and Invincibility Star 

We grouped these together because they have roughly the safe effect. By activating Bullet Bill, you'll be able to launch ahead for a few seconds at maximum speed, running over racers that stand in your way. Likewise, the Invincibility Star lets you speed ahead of opponents without being hurt by any of their power-ups. Use both of these whenever you get the chance. 

6.) Fake Item Box

The fake item box is a great way to psyche someone out when they're looking for a power-up. This icon bears a similarity to the same ones you run over to get items. The main difference, however, is that the question mark that normally appears is reversed. They're easy to spot, though you can still fake out plenty of people. 

5.) Banana Peel 

The Banana Peel is one of the all-time great power-ups in the Mario Kart series. Banana Peels can either be dropped behind a player or launched ahead of them, and will cause any racer that runs over one to slip up and lose speed. They're great for defensive purposes, but be careful – any that you leave on a previous lap can work against you if you run over them. 

4.) Blooper

The Blooper is a real pain in the neck when someone launches him your way. He'll fly right in front of you and shoot a whole bunch of ink onto the screen, making it nearly impossible to see the turns ahead. However, on the other hand, he's great to have if you're trying to disorient other drivers.

3.) Mushroom 

While the Mushroom doesn't harm other racers, it provides you with the necessary speed burst to get ahead. By activating the Mushroom, you'll accelerate temporarily for a few seconds – which can make all the difference in getting a first place win. Other variants of this power-up include the Triple Mushroom, which lets you launch three at once, and the Infinite Mushroom, which gives you unlimited boosts for several seconds. 

2.) Lightning Bolt

The Lightning Bolt is a tremendously cool weapon to have. Activating it forces all the other players on the track – ahead of you or behind you – to shrink. It slows their momentum quite a bit, and if they're straight ahead, you can even run them over for good measure. Be warned, though – what goes around comes around, and if another player acquires a Lightning Bolt, they'll definitely use it. 

1.) Blue Spiny Shell

The most feared item in the Mario Kart universe, bar none. Once this puppy is launched, it immediately pursues the lead driver in a race, and stops at nothing – NOTHING – to get there. Once it homes in on its target, it'll circle around and then explode on said driver, forcing him or her to crash while others pass by. It's a devastating power-up, one that can change the course of a race in seconds. That's why we love it so much.

Mario Kart 8 will release on May 30th for Wii U.